One from the Heart (1982)

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Released 14-Apr-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romance Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 98:40
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Francis Ford Coppola
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Frederic Forrest
Teri Garr
Raul Julia
Nastassja Kinski
Harry Dean Stanton
Lainie Kazan
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Tom Waits


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits Yes

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Plot Synopsis

    Love's a b****. Ask anyone who's been in it. Just when you think you've got it all worked out, something comes along and screws it up. Hank and Frannie have been in love. They've lived together for five years. And now it's all up in the air.

    Hank is a simple man, who enjoys simple pleasures. He works in a wrecking yard in Las Vegas that specializes in discarded casino decorations, signage and the like. He and his partner Moe have a good business, despite Frank's sometimes wild and impulsive acquisitions that may or may not be exactly quality resale value.

    Frannie works in a travel agency. While she plans and books many others on trips to wild and exotic locations, she herself hasn't been to any of these. As she arranges the windows of her shop, she imagines the different places that she could go. But she has a stable life in Las Vegas, and a established relationship with Hank that's worth staying around for. Right? Well, things are about to take a turn for the...different, as Hank and Frannie fight about their relationship and Frannie decides to hit the road and do what she's always wanted to. After all, Hank isn't really interested in her, or her needs - he's a fat slob who doesn't know how good he's got it. Frank is in the same frame of mind. She doesn't know what she wants - he gives her a good time, shows her he cares, but she's never satisfied. Let her go. Who cares, anyway? Probably both of them. It just might take a bit of time for them to find that out.

    This is a most ambitious project by awarded director Francis Ford Coppola. After his acclaimed films in the Godfather series and the classic Apocalypse Now, Coppola decided to try something new. This film is something very new indeed. Imagine if someone had decided to film Moulin Rouge 20 years ago. What might they have came up with? Perhaps this film.

    This movie would probably be too much for most mere mortals, but not director Francis Ford Coppola. Undaunted by the prospect of a mammoth studio production, he has filmed something that really is a marvel to behold. The scope and ambition of this project must have been amazing as Coppola seems to be able to bite off more than anyone else would dare to and chew like hell. Imagine a full film production, set in the heart of Las Vegas, both inside and out. Imagine that you set out to film the entire film on set with no locations of any kind. A full film set in the environs of Las Vegas all filmed in a studio. Who'd attempt such a crazy feat? One guess.

    So, one would ask, does this film work? This really depends on how you look at it. If I were to look at this as a straight film, and take into account the performances and story, then perhaps I'd say no. But after seeing this film all these years after it was filmed, you get a sense as to what the director was trying to achieve and it's this I really must take into account before I can pass judgement, and what he was trying to achieve was quite dramatic. This film is really a stage play, brought to life on the silver screen with much of the talent required for a stage production and a bit of film magic that brings to life the whole of the story. It's up to each person to decide whether he or she is interested in the lives of these two characters and how it all ends up. We have some reasonable performances with popular 70s era actress Teri Garr as Frannie and Coppola favourite Frederic Forrest as Hank. Harry Dean Stanton, Nastassja Kinski, Lainie Kazan (Gigli) and the late Raul Julia all do excellent jobs in their supporting roles.

    This is one film that should be seen purely as an example as to what can be achieved by someone who is motivated and visionary enough to undertake such an ambitious project as this. As a film buff, I had a really interesting time watching this film come to life. Sure, the storyline has flaws and predictability and it hasn't dated all that well,  but this is countered by the pure visual spectacle conceived and realized by the director. If you are a student of filmmaking or interested in the career of Francis Ford Coppola, then this film is worth a look.

A Footnote:

   
This version of the film appears to be the same as the laserdisc version as released in the U.S., which from memory (very faint) is the same as the VHS release made available in the early 80s. There is reportedly a laserdisc version released in Japan that may be closer to the directors intended version and also mirror the original theatrical version that had a limited screening window in the U.S. market. The Japanese disc is reported to be about 5 minutes longer than the U.S. cut and explains some of the extra 'unused' footage seen in the theatrical trailer. Extras scenes include where Hank and Frannie shop for presents for each other before the split up later that night; more intimacy between Hank and Leila (Nastassja Kinski) as well as Frannie and Ray (Raul Julia); more extra footage is seen in the car ride after Hank drags Frannie from Ray's place; an extended 'morning after' scene and a scene just before Hank falls through the skylight. All of these reportedly enhance the film and flesh out more of the character's motivation, but of course I cannot comment at to the accuracy of this as I've never seen this version and we only have the one version available here.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    For a film that cost approximately $US29 million dollars yet reportedly made just under $US1 million, we are probably lucky to get a transfer as good as we have here, which isn't reference quality or state of the art, but it is reasonable.

    This film is presented full frame (1.33:1) which is quite near its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.37:1. Of course, there is no 16x9 enhancement. While an unusual aspect ratio for a modern film and different to the 1.85:1 aspect the director used on the Godfather series, it is quite appropriate with this film as it lends to the 'stage play' like framing of the film and also lends an intimacy to the characters that might have gotten lost with a wider aspect ratio.

    We get a reasonable level of sharpness with the transfer here, but considering the age of the film and it's apparent lack of restoration this is probably as good as it'll get. Shadow detail is fair, but is hampered by some overactive grain which is quite noticeable during some of the darker moments of the film. Low level noise is a very minor problem but is visible at 15:54, but only just.

    Colour use in this film ranges from the subtle to the exaggerated as intended by the director. For the age of the film, we get a good quality colour transfer committed to this DVD with an image that imparts all the required colour range well. Again, not state of the art or reference, but fairly good.

    MPEG artefacts don't seem to be a problem here. Aliasing isn't a real issue with this picture and the expected edge enhancement doesn't seem to be a fan of this particular film and for the most part stayed away. The print used to transfer the film to DVD isn't the cleanest, but it may have been the best. However, there are some problems with what was used. Grain is visible to various degrees throughout the film. I didn't find it particularly distracting, but it was there. There is a big hair that flickers at the bottom left of screen from 26:58 to 27:36 that is fairly distracting. There is an odd jump in the footage (and the audio as well) at 53:04 when we go from one scene to another. This is where the side change is located on the U.S. laserdisc version of the film and it would appear that this disc is mastered from the original laserdisc master. The Japanese disc features a side change at an earlier location in the film.

    There are no subtitle options available on this disc.

    This disc is formatted single layer and as such, a layer change is not an issue. Given the dearth of extras, subtitle streams and audio options and given that the film has a fairly short running time, space on the disc isn't a problem and we get a good compression job here.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    We have a workable audio mix with this film, but just as the print suffers from some problems, so too is the case with the audio. There is an odd jump in the audio (as well as the video) that mirrors the side change location of the U.S. laserdisc version of the film at 53:04. There is also a noticeable pop in the audio at 28:00.

    There is only one audio option available on this disc, that being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded mix.

    For the most part, the dialogue quality is fairly good, but it seemed a bit muddled at times and I wish I had a subtitle option to help. Alas, not on this disc. Thankfully, this was a rare occurrence and for the most part I had no major issues with the dialogue during the program. Audio sync is a bit hit and miss with some out of sync examples at 15:58 and again at 17:48.

    Music for this film comes from composer and songwriter Tom Waits. Tom has contributed to many films over the years, most recently to Fight Club, Dead Man Walking and Pollock. With this film, his contribution is far greater as he basically is charged with creating the entire musical soundscape for the film. This is quite the project, as Tom not only had to compose the normal score for the film but compose and perform many songs for the film as well. This film is in some ways very much a traditional musical, but not to the entirety of films like Moulin Rouge or Evita where almost every scene features singing. Here, music is everywhere during the film, and singing is frequent, just not always from the characters on screen. Helping out Tom Waits in the vocals area is legendary country singer Crystal Gayle, who contributes an appropriate female vocal counter to Tom's male voice which suits the film's subject matter. The music is good with some memorable songs and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Best Adaptation Score, but Henry Mancini went on to win for Victor / Victoria.

    As is completely in keeping with the style and atmosphere of the film, the surrounds do their appropriate work in adding some ambience to the soundtrack while not being overtly contributive.

    There is a reasonable amount of LFE heard in this soundtrack with the subwoofer backing up the mains appropriately during the many musical passages. Again, not overt, but complementary to the soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The pickings are slim here with only a theatrical trailer available. For this film I found this disappointing as it is obvious that much work, care and creativity went into the production of this film and, while not successful, it is still an interesting film that deserves a bit more attention paid to it than we have here. I would have loved to have seen some interviews with the cast and crew and perhaps some behind the scenes footage as this was (and still is) a hugely ambitious project. Sadly, I doubt that we'll see more than we have presented here. I very much hope I am eventually proven wrong.

Menu

    After the normal distributors logos and copyright warnings, we are taken to the disc's Main Menu which offers us the following:     All menus are static, silent and without 16x9 enhancement.

Theatrical Trailer   -   2:55

    This is an interesting trailer and so much more a tease because of the lack of extras available on the disc. This trailer features several alternate takes, unused takes, and complete unused scenes. It is obvious that there must have been either some fairly serious rewriting going on during the production, or the director was perhaps filming several different versions (we know of at least two) of the film to see what would work the best. Either way, this is the closest we get to a deleted scenes section. Presented full frame with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.


     Ours was the first release of this film on the DVD format, therefore giving us in Region 4 the initial win. However, a new 2 disc Special Edition has just been released in Region 1 (January 27, 2004) with a host of extra features. The range of extras made available here is quite staggering and this new edition would have to be the version of choice for any fan. I still have not been able to determine whether the new disc features the cut from the Japanese laserdisc, which some consider to be the director's intended cut, or the original theatrical version. The version released here in Region 4 comes from the U.S. laserdisc master.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:     A massive win to Region 1 here.

Summary

     While this film doesn't quite work at every level, it is quite the spectacle to behold. Lack of ambition was never a real problem for director Francis Ford Coppola, and this film is proof of that. Sure, it has some failings. Some of the set pieces have dated poorly and the dialogue is a bit stodgy at times, but there are some very interesting techniques going on throughout the film so that at times I forgot about the various flaws in the film and just marvelled at the wonder of it all. Not a great film, but a great achievement in filmmaking. Did I just contradict myself? Maybe, but have a look at the film and see what I mean. Worth a look.

     The video is watchable with a transfer from what probably is the best print available. There are some odd jumps in footage and some grain is present at times, but the video isn't terrible considering the age and era of the film's production.

     The audio is workable with an effective 2.0 surround encoded mix available that serves the film reasonably well.

     The extras are disappointingly thin with only a theatrical trailer available that features several unused and alternate scenes from the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Thursday, May 01, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RA-61, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2090
SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts, VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Sub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

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